SL Defense Ministry accuses NY Times reporter of falsehood

[TamilNet, Monday, 18 June 2007, 08:24 GMT]
Sri Lanka's Military commander for Jaffna region, Major Gen. G.A. Chandrasiri Sunday accused Somini Sengupta, a senior reporter for New York Times for "shameful falsification of facts...depraving the true spirit of professional journalism," for quoting him as saying that "certain members of the Security forces are involved in Human Rights violations in Jaffna." The Major General said in a report published in Sri Lanka Defense Ministry website that he had never acknowledged involvement of armed forces in any of the crimes mentioned in the article or recognized any "Tamil Paramilitary group" as "pro-government."

In the article publish on 15th June Friday under the title "Sri Lanka's Scars Trace Lines of War without End" in International Herald Tribune, Ms Sengupta wrote:
    "General Chandrasiri, in an interview, first said the abductions were the work of pro-government Tamil paramilitary groups who, as he put it, try to “eliminate” Tamil Tiger operatives. He later acknowledged that some people in the security forces could also be involved. “I’m not saying all our people are clean,” he said. “Our duty is to catch them and punish them.”"

General Chandasiri said that "the reporter had deliberately censored a large part of the interview and altered the rest for some unconceivable reason," the Defense Ministry website said. "What I said was that the Army would certainly punish any of its members found guilty in any violation of human rights," the website quoted the General as saying.

Earlier, in April 2006, BBC reporters Dumeetha Luthra and Michael Voss were accused of biased coverage by State run newspapers and the nationalist Island for saying that "more than 40,000 people were displaced as refugees after the latest air strike."

Dumeetha Luthra was excoriated in an editorial that appeared in the Sunday Observer. "British broadcasting probably had its sorriest hour yet since its creation. The Beeb represented by Dumeetha Luthra in this country, hurriedly divested itself of even a thin cloak of credibility. Luthra was either amnesic, or just plain sick," the editorial said.

It was later confirmed that the figure of 43,158 persons displaced was an official figure reported by the Divisional Secretariat of Muttur and verified by independent NGOs including INFORM.

Related Articles:
30.04.06   Colombo assails SLMM, accuses media bias in refugee figure d..

External Links:
BBC: Sri Lanka: Truth, bias and the BBC
SLDefense: Jaffna Commander disdains false reporting by the New York Times reporter
NYT: Sri Lanka’s Scars Trace Lines of War Without End


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